tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN October 8, 2012 10:00am-12:00pm EDT
lexington, virginia, for a major foreign- policy speech, live right here at 11:20 eastern. afterwards we will open the phone lines to get your reaction. tonight a debate for a u.s. senate seat live at 8:00 eastern in virginia, to a bill former governors vying for the job. tim kaine faces george allen. then a debate between candidates for u.s. senate in montana. jon tester is battling republican congressman dennis rehberg. we will have that for you live on c-span. >> campaign 2012's debate hub website is the only place you will see our live coverage of behind-the-scenes sights and sounds before and after the debates. it has each debate question available as a separate topic.
you can read political suites from reporters and others at c- span.org/debates/ >> c-span gives a great inside look into what happening in washington. whenever that happens, you are always surprised at what comes back to you and it kind of changes your view. it's different than regular media, because it's very effective and shows a lot of what is real and what's going on. i watched hearings and when the senate and house vote on different bills, we watch from the office. and when the supreme court has hearings, we watch different decisions and opinions on c- span. >> erin watches on directv. c-span, created in 1979, brought
to you as a public service by your television provider. >> recently, henry de sio, the chief operating officers of the 2008 obama campaign, former deputy assistant to president obama, spoke at california state university northridge to discuss lessons learned from the 2008 campaign and how they can be applied to this year's campaign. >> this is something of a homecoming for me. i grew up until i was in third grade, i live in lakewood california. and i spent a lot of time in this area. this was a holiday place for me. all my relatives lived scattered from granada hills to this area. this is where we came every christmas and thanksgiving and
so forth. it's a great honor to come back here. to tell you about myself, when i was in third grade i moved to a two-r rivers, california. a small town. i had the same intent kids i went to school with every year until a great. when i got into high school, we were bused into the valley and picked up a lot more classmates. we did a lot of outdoor activities, camping, fishing, hunting, played ball. and so, eventually, i ended up at uc santa barbara as a student of political science. having grown up rural and kind of small, i never imagined i could work in the white house or be part of a political campaign
like the obama campaign. so i always loved the chance to be able to talk like this, because i hope there's something in my story that might be inspiring for other people as you try to achieve your own success. washington was on the other side of the world when i was growing up and now it's a little more accessible. but we cannot forget we need to dream big dreams, as my boss likes to tell my two small children. we will talk a little today about my path to the white house. just quickly, i like to say everything i learned, i learned on the campaign trail. there's always a winner and loser. the political environment just like the business world, is highly competitive. with every campaign season there's always a new crop of start-ups. innovation incubators.
and so, i guess the campaign is a little bit of an entrepreneurial showcase. i think a lot of us think we see these ads and i guess keeping the campaign is disliked a big marketing machine that spits out the ads we see on tv and the candidates are sending mail to us an e-mail to our in box and the phone calls and so forth. but if you peel back the curtain, you might find something. a something difference you find a very complex, highly detailed operation. there's a million things happening at once. there are things happening around the candidates, there are things happening around the headquarters operations, things happening in field offices. everything from where a
candidate will stay, who will stand with the candidates, what site he should choose for that and how many people should come to the event and right down to the helium in the balloons and how we spend our money. where we spend money and how to spend money. all these things are happening. the candidate is always -- the camera is always on the candidates and all our expenses shore up in a monthly expense report that we after submit to the government. it's a highly transparent operation. it is in this house atmosphere under a scorching aware of the spotlight that leadership is on display at for everyone to see. it's like a leadership reality show. imagine coming to work to a place where everything boss says, every decision that you make, every action your organization takes is available
for everyone to see, if you think about it this way, the campaign is pretty amazing. and so, i like to use the 2008 campaign as a canvas. i like to use it as a way to talk about some of the things -- it's like, using it as a laboratory, to understand why winners win and why losers lose. if you look at 2008, you have everything from how did you take this little known brand of barack obama and turn it into a campbell soup of politics, which is what you had with the clintons, they had a very long history and years of service. how do you manage through a crisis? what happens when that prices
outside starts to shake the confidence inside? how do you get control of a narrative that is escaping? all those things are available when you look at 2008 and even in 2012. some people get their lessons from the board room. some people get them from the classroom. some people get them from playing field. some people get them from the battlefield. i get mine from the campaign trail. personal and organizational success. we will talk a little about a few things tonight. i want to do three things tonight. first, i want you to love campaigns the way i do. we'll talk a little about what it's like to be on a campaign. i will tell a little bit of my story for the student trying to navigate your way to success,
second. so maybe we can open up some questions around that. finally, question and answer. i hope we can explore a little bit about language and by experience, talk about what people are seeing and take some of these lessons a way to our everyday life. we will spend about 20 minutes before we get to question and answer. so, what's it like to work inside a campaign? first of all, let me tell you i love answering this question in september. september is my favorite month. it's the time of year when the weather is changing, you have football on your tv again, leaves on the trees started to change colors, certainly on the east coast where i'm living now, ind you have those ads -- a'
am barack obama and i approve this message" and "i am mitt romney and i approve this message." you know in september when the temperatures are starting to fall outside, they are starting to rise inside. we have that in 2007. again in 2008. everything i'm reading in the news right now shows mitt romney is having it and the obama campaign should expect this as well because that's what happens this time of year. in 2007 we were going six months at this stage, or six months into the campaign four years ago at this stage. we were focused on iowa. we believed we had to win iowa to have a shot at the
nomination. if we lost, we would have some problems. there was a much more narrow path to the nomination. so everyone was really focused on the four early states, which included new hampshire, south carolina, new hampshire as well. things were really starting to happen in september. starting to see things come together after many months. tuneups for thel collaps race that's 12 weeks away. a car you have on labor day is the car you'll drive through the primary. so you are getting people into positions. it was late september when this poll dropped. it was the same one we had been seeing a couple months, but it showed hillary clinton ahead by 47% to 23% at. it was a cnn poll and she was winning by at least 20 points or
maybe 25 points. apple dropped into headquarters like a grenade. there was something that happened in that moment, the pressure started to squeeze. we started to peel the pressure. funders get little nervous when they start to see a national poll that shows you way behind. there's starts to become questions about the strategy, maybe we should not be focusing on iowa but may be spreading the money around that the rest of the country to get the members upp. the questions just really started to rise at that time. people started getting nervous inside. staff members started to worry, i it was used to look like an opportunity and now it looks like a cliff. you don't know if you are going to lose your job if we lose. you start thinking about things you did not think about before when you get nervous. we will talk later about how we
got through that. in 2008, that was another moment for us. if you remember 2008 -- and it's funny to think about four years only knew sarah palin less than a month. our most high-profile hire, joe biden, had only been with us six weeks. we still did not know joe the plumber yet. so it's funny to look back on that time. remember coming into september four years ago and we had a big convention in denver, an amazing summer, a fund toward that went off flawlessly, we had rolled out our new vice president and rolling in to september and we have a convention that big and we feel we have momentum and the next day john mccain announces sarah palin as vice presidents.
you could just feel something all of a sudden. people can say what about how ready she was, but in that moment sarah palin made a pretty grand entrance onto the national stage. she blew through. i often talk about that as hurricane sarah. we had the republican convention. there were two hurricane events in my mind. they had to cancel the first day of their convention and then there was hurricane sarah. the head wind was still for about 18 days. john mccain came out of his convention in september with a three-point lead. that stretched to about six or eight points in mid september. the alarm bell sounded and people were saying the same thing they had said a year ago.
we started to hear about the strategy, we were not strong enough, we had not hit hard enough at mccain. people that are decided we were going to lose, so we were starting to feel all this pressure. then september 15 comes and that's when wall street collapsed and john mccain was on the look -- hook for six words -- "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." then things calmed down on our side. you start to go deeper into september and things begin to unravel. sarah palin gives a bad interview to katie couric around this time. and last night four years ago was the first debate. the pressure could not have been higher. on top of that, senator mccain
was doing this dance between washington and the campaign trail. he had gone to washington for the bailout package and said he would not go to the debate unless there was a bailout package. we did not even know of john mccain would show up on the night. so that september, mitt romney had a tough month, people ask me all the time with a point to happen? , if you's pretty early think. think. 18 days with sarah palin seemed like a lifetime to me. got two lifetimes, that's like 40 days. a lot can happen on the campaign trail between now and then. it's a very interesting time. let's roll back a little. let's talk about the early days. first, my story.
how i got to the campaign. i will go back to september again, 2006. my wife and i were sitting on the banks of the potomac in alexandria, virginia. we have our pad and paper. paper being married to a serial campaigner, she has to go through this ritual every year where we say what are our goals for the year? it never goes exactly the way we want, but it makes me feel better, and she plays a long. we're on the banks of the potomac and we had a nice life. i had a consulting practice i was very happy with and i enjoyed the balance of my life. my wife was working at the university doing public relations for major university,. a quiet, she thought that we should have a family. i thought that meant more than
me and the two dogs, so i was ok with that. so i had been in the 2004 race and i think i have one more presidential race in me, i said. if we are going to start a family, i would like to get one more president to campaign done. she was ok with it. i have depended a guy like that the time. al gore was one of them. people said they did not see him getting in. so the other one was john edwards. i liked john edwards at the time. there was a little back and forth going on with that. so that did not seem to be developing. it did not look like anything was going to happen. otherwas one candidate i liked, barack obama. five years ago, people in the fall of 2006 would say things like he's never going to get elected, there's no way america
would elect an african-american, you cannot get elected with the name barack hussain obama. it did not matter because i did not know anybody in chicago. so it did not look like anything was going to be happening. then on december 26, 2006, my wife and i were shopping the day after christmas in a barnes and noble just up the road in san luis obispo in california. my phone went off and someone was calling to see if i was interested in working on a barack obama campaign. of course i was. i was quickly connected with a guy who became the deputy campaign manager. i thought i was a point for the job of national campaign manager. so i thought i've got to put it
all on the table. steve never indicated i was being considered for national campaign director, and i put it out there, i said, steve, you can make it so people can download literature, customize it for their neighbors or their club, and we tested a product in 2004 that would make it possible to have a cell phone, internet connection, and a computer, you could turn your kitchen table into a phone bank, turn your kitchen into a staging area or many campaign headquarters. i put it on the line -- mini campaign headquarters. i thought i did a great job and the campaign manager, david plouffe, he asked about me and steve told him that i had some interesting ideas. so i thought, that's good.
it turns out that i think what steve meant was he had some interesting ideas. i did not hear anything from them for many, many weeks. the candidate was on tv one night or one day, but i was watching it that evening, announcing his bid for president, around february, for every 12th, if i remember right. i watched it on tv. my opponent had been long dead, so i thought, that's it. been the phones start ringing again and people are calling me and i'm being asked to come to chicago to assess staff and to evaluate some of the operations. i thought, this sounds pretty good. they are for me a job in management. i thought, this is great. i said there's only one thing i have to do, because something has changed since december 26. i have to go home and talk to my
wife and make sure -- this is a family affair, after all. so i talked to my wife, was not pregnant, and we wanted to make sure everything was ok with the baby. so we said we will go to the doctor on march 1 and things are ok, we'll do this. on march 1, we walked out of the doctor's office, the baby's heart was beating and everything was fine, walked out of the doctor's office and that triggered a series of activities. we gave our 30 days notice and sold my clients, they knew this was coming. jump on a plane, flew to chicago, signed the paperwork, and started working and went back and got my wife later. if you have a big like event, is that supposed to put your help that risk? song going to have a baby and then i quit my job and flew to chicago to start with a new
house and a new life. i was like a walking heart attack the day i walked in the door. i think everybody brings in their own story that's very unique like this. so we all come in very enthusiastic, but there's something going on in your life as you are also managing this entrance into a situation like that. so let's talk a little about just a few lessons from the very early days and then will go to questions. coming into chicago, setting up a campaign. i get this question a lot, how did you guys do it and so organized? what was the secret? let me tell you what the early days of chicago were like. remember, march 1, a few weeks away from the announcement, we still did not have headquarters. the candidate denounced and we did not have a headquarters. -- the candidate announced.
we were in a temporary office with people buzzing around all the time and i cannot keep track of all the new people. what was also happening is we cannot fit everybody. in this everybody so there were people in a hotel conference rooms. there were people in law from conference rooms where they could get an internet connection. people working at starbucks where they could get an internet connection, people working at their kitchen tables around town. all of a sudden, around april 1 we start moving into our headquarters finally. this is six weeks away from the announcement or maybe even longer. just this big space, far bigger than this room, about three times the size of this room on the whole floor of a high-rise building in chicago. it was remarkable. we did not have everybody in yet, but we were still getting our servers up. we had phones ringing and people
try to answer phones. we had e-mail coming into our e- mail address and did not even have a system to receive e-mail in a real way that. you that. we had mail coming in but we did not have a budget yet. we had constituency leaders calling our political department because they wanted to have time with the candidate. we had fund-raisers. we had to raise money with this little-known barack obama brand against what was really a mismatch against hillary clinton. building airplanes in mid flight. it was a really crazy time. i remember in the early days the candidates coming through headquarters and he was walking from the back of the room with its bypr -- with his white sox cap on. i cannot even focus because i kept thinking it is just a big desk farm and how are we ever going to fill this space?
we had some light coming through the windows. we did not have campaign signs or anything to put on walls. he was walking toward me and i remember this time because it's one of the last times i think i spoke to him and he did not have secret service detail. i'm sure his life changed in that moment. i look back and think how much my life changed in that moment too, tethered to buy blackberry with things constantly coming at me. one more story about that first moment, michelle obama, imat michelle obama when she came to headquarters -- i met michelle obama when she came through the headquarters for the first time. she was disturbed about the white walls. she had a party for the children of staff so they could have pizza and we did obama art with a 5-year-old and 8-year-olds.
we had those posters all over the headquarters until we got our actual sign it. the kids are stayed up for the whole campaign. it kd of got layered and lost with the other signs later. it's very michelle obama. you hear about your dedication to kids. and how i met her. this was in the early days of the campaign. i love talking about this time because it was an electric timer in the campaign. it was spirited, hopeful, innovative. the migration to chicago was like a testament to the reward of entrepreneurship, just people leaving everything behind to pursue the unimaginable. campaign headquarters became a gathering place for idealists, innovators, risktakers. while it's true that the young
have less to risk and more to believe in, we had people coming off wall street, people leaving their law practices, people coming out of board rooms to join the campaign. so it was really inspiring during this time. and we had this really energetic mix of people. this is kind of funny. we were putting our workplaces together feverishly. then you are off and running, but there's only one guy who can put up your computer. sam dutiful working, going through the headquarters and try to get people plugged in and get their phones going and the whole thing. we called him sam the red sox fan because he wore a ball cap and his jersey to work every day and none of us knew each other's last names yet. so you would just have him to get you going and people were
scurrying around with this energy going around. as people start -- you have this high energy, which can be intoxicating but on the other hand. it can hand. we don't have institutional history it together to guide us. we don't have the parameters you might have in the normal workplace. we are the workplace without boundaries. we had a manual we could give people that was about five pages, an employee manual. i don't even know what we could have put in it. it might of been, you can get your health insurance benefits and here's where the restroom is. nothing to tell people. so you have this energetic group of people and they are competitive. maybe even a little ambitious. you come into this environment, many people came in without a job. there were just volunteers and want to get a job.
some people came because they wanted to get noticed by the right people. yes, people who had been hired who want more responsibility than in their other jobs. and department heads trying to get more budget than the other department. so you have this thing going on where it's a very chaotic time. you really need to get control of this, because in this environment where there are no norms, it's like building a village from scratch, where everybody comes to a place with no rules, no structures. it's like the wild west. not everybody -- some people have their own tactics for getting blown way. sometimes even the people lose control of their inner jerks. we all have them.
so you throw an elbow at the stranger you don't know maybe and maybe that turns into an ongoing skirmish and then maybe arrival restart to develop and then blame starts to apply, reputations start to fail. your leadership can die in the very first days if you don't manage yourself right in this environment. campaigns uniquely grow from these seeds of turmoil. how do you get control of this kind? ? -- of this kind of environment? you don't know what's happening in the other campaigns. three heard the knives were sharpened in the clinton campaign, but. you don't but it's like poker. you know what your hand is, but you don't know what the hands are of the other campaigns. when things start to show and the nose where an unnamed campaign staffer said this about unnamed campaign staffer and
then you start to see there have been power struggles emerging and some warring factions that may be happening in the other campaigns. so if you don't get control of this early, you have chaos. i give the candidates all the credit. there were three things -- three principles he gave our staff in the earliest days. no drama, respect everyone, build it from the bottom up. i think everybody knows about no drama. it was all we had to hang our hats on as an organization that infighting would not be tolerated. respect everyone, that became the cornerstone for the collaborative environment that we ultimately had. we had to break through, but we got there.
and to build it from the bottom up, i think people know about that. you saw that in action, not just in the community, but that is also how we were supposed to work as a campaign. this was important for us. it gave us a culture and some form. many months later when we had some clinton staff coming into the campaign after we had won the nomination, i remember a former clinton staffer st. i really want to be more forceful about whatever issue is bothering her, but you have this note, the thing that i don't want to challenge. so it lasted throughout the whole campaign through the different bumps, but reforms that we went through as a campaign and the desperate crises we went through together. it was more than just that. it was not just about our culture. he actually gave us an idea of the kind of person we should have on the campaign.
the type of person we should hire, which was important for me as a manager. now i am not just hiring people with long resumes with certain skills sense, i am hiring a type of person, no drama, respect, build it from the bottom up. it really did change the face of our organization more than anything. i remember having a conversation much later with my old mentor from harvard named david, why give all the credit helping me get ready for the five years i spent with obama on the campaign. he asked me to meet for coffee or drink after work late in the campaign. so i got off early that night. it was 9:30. i said what is the secret to obama's success? h-- he asked what was the secret?
i said, we hire leaders. when i look back on it, the type of person, this whole band changemaker, i described that person as three things or four things. , service heart, entrepreneur spirit, and collaborative approach. and i think that was not only the type of person drawn to our staff but was also drawn to the campaign more broadly,. in the, one more thing and then questions. the candidate not only gave us this advice body lived by his advice.
i remember the day that he decided to make the biggest hire in the campaign, joe biden. i remember when i learned he had picked joe biden, i was like, really? this is a not so change kind of guy, 30 years in the senate, seemed like everything we were campaigning against. joe biden, when he came in, i could not have liked him more. he was everything you would think. he was no drama. the most unassuming entrance into the campaign that we could have had. you did not even notice he had all the senate trappings. he had respect for everyone. he integrated so well into the campaign. you heard maybe there were some divisions on the mccain's
campaign trail between his camp and sarah palin's. joe biden pulled everyone to read all the staff. you could tell how excited he was. he said the, "you guys are the ones a pit min -- who kicked muy ass on the campaign trail." to get to a final point about the candidate, he would go out to people and he would say, if you want to know how i'm going to run my campaign, if you want to know what kind of president i will be, one time i run my campaign. he went to community after community and said that. bold thing for a candidate to say, because campaigns are so complicated and there so much going on.
all the talk about barack obama that he never met a payroll or never had a business before, he took control of the culture and the ethos and took control of his campaign from the first days. he would say, i am still learning my way on the campaign trail, i still don't have my putting, and i'm still making mistakes, i'm counting on you guys. he would say that in the very first days. but he had no trouble in how to command his organization. when he would go out and say watch how i run my campaign, that elevated people like me, because we had a lot of pride in what he was asking us to rise up to. so i will stop right there and maybe get to some questions. i hope we can get a few questions about some of my
experiences, some questions you might have about career paths and different other things. >> we have some time for q&a and i just wanted to give a couple brief ground rules. we have a microphone right here. if you want to ask a question, you should step up there and ask one. the quick brown rules are just make sure the question is a question. -- ground rules. tried to be brief. after you ask, give any time to answer, and you may want to just have a seat then. the microphone is right here. if we could have folks show up and ask a question. >> i would like to hear the rest
of the white baseball cap and sweats story. >> i will tell you something. he said this to me more than once, he used to say about the campaign, keep it tight, you know how i like it run tight. wiper's day at my swearing in i saw him again, this was a couple years later, and he said the same thing. one of the things i liked about him in those days was the fact that this was a candidate who said we're going to run it like a business. he was very principle-driven. i liked that. when i started my own practice, i wanted everyday people to run for political office. i wanted them to learn the principles of success, of
leadership, of running an organization, and not really tactics. there was a lot of things going on in the democratic party where you could learn how to do door knocking and make a speech and be a candidate. i wanted people to learn how to be a ceo of their own organization, to "mompreneuebe n entrepreneur or. from the earliest days you were impressed with the fact that he had an appreciation for the principles that drove success and he was very long headed. he never got caught up in the headlines of the day. he was always looking down the road. it was just a moment that stuck with me, because it just felt like -- at the time it did not mean anything but later when i looked back when he did not
have the secret service back then. i think you sort of lose something -- although i never heard him complain about that. there's a change that happens when you are an ordinary guy and then you are transformed. let's get to some more questions. e up.ead and lined >> one of the exciting at parts about the campaign for me was obama's response or description of his relationship with the rev. jeremy right -- jeremiah wright. can you talk about your role in that damage control? it was such an incredible speech, his language, the tone, the pace. i was mesmerized for the half- hour or so that i watched. >> i will disappoint you. i did not like the speech. but i was wrong.
let me give you -- let me go back a little and you can sit down. i will take a little while to answer this. getting to that moment, i did not know much about their reverend. i knew there was this person out there throughout the campaign. to me it felt like the honorable you did not want for dinner. i did not really want to know about it. -- it felt like the uncle you did not want over for dinner. when the whole thing been hit on tv it caused a national stir. crisis, thingsa just happen both nighoutside and inside it. this is an issue between two men, also, a very personal
thing. i just wanted this issue to be done with. i wanted to dissolve it. at the time of his speech i was thinking we had to cut ties and move on and that was the only way we could do it. i did not feel the speech went far enough with that. it was just silly. it was an amazing speech. it was written with the help of his speech writer john faravro. it was the right tone. i always thought this was one of those things -- at the time i thought there is two men who have had long histories together and this was a man who got into christ after marrying his wife and baptized their children.
i thought it must be hard and the two men must go to sleep tortured every night. what was amazing was and i thought he handled it in the end with real grace. i think people watched him go through this process. he did not really leave the church officially for about another month and a half, i think. i think that it spoke a lot to him. i think that if he had handled it the way i was thinking, it would've been a disaster. when you have a crisis, to think about the fact it's not just a puerto rico crisis --a pr crisis. all of a sudden the money stops. this is what i was thinking, money's not coming in. people are starting to panic. the cfo is nervous because she
cannot cut back the spending. things start to happen. even in that moment as an organization, we really came together between the different players and we worked out a plan to help us get through that time. we knew that things would work out over time, and they get. i have a different view of this, so i was reacting a little at the time to those events. -- i had a different view. >> how would you compare the obama campaign that you were part of compared to the one today? and how would you contrast the obama campaign versus the romney campaign? >> that's a great question. when -- we used to have a meeting every morning in chicago. i remember sitting in this room, it was made in september or
october or maybe around this time and every morning we would have a meeting of the senior staff. i remember looking out the window of a high-rise and thinking will i ever do this again? everybody coming together and you plan out what the point to happen during the day. at night i would come home and turn on the tv. you have the meeting and everybody scatters and does what they're going to do. and you hear what the candidate is going to do that day and then i would come home at night and see how the day when my turn on the tv. umc the events in some faraway city playing out the way you had talked about in the morning. it was kind of magical. i think that i thought i was pretty much done then, so i decided at that moment i was not going to do 2012. my son was now year-old. he is the obama baby. i second son was born about the
120-day mark of the new administration. so we had a lot of stuff going on and home, too. but when i look at it, it is so different. i have 58 races under my belt. the obama campaign has not had one really this year. so i thought this is really hard work. some people may describe it in the news as a slog. i imagine it is. it's probably really hard to go that long. as far as what is the difference, i don't know yet. at this point you have to pick seven or 58 tests -- 57 or 58 tests to see how things are going, but not this time around.
it's a pretty tight organization. i think the romney campaign has had a lot of the same challenges we have had and more in 2008 than this campaign in 2012. in terms of the difference between romney and obama this time? well, one is a calendar campaign and one is an incumbent campaign. no one has asked for my advice, but you see romney coming toward the debates and one of the challenges -- and i will talk about both campaigns, i think one of the challenges the romney campaign will have is that he is not connecting. he does not connect. and what's wrong with mitt romney? he seems like a nice enough guy
to me. he was my governor for a while and i thought he was pretty competent in massachusetts. one of the things he has not done in terms of connecting was it's not dislike he's not connecting with people, but the thing that's really going on is he has not been able to say why his time at bain capital would make him ready for president. that's a connection that i think people are not seeing. he can get warm and talk about roses on his mother's bedside table, like at the convention, which was moving. but until we start connecting in that way, i think he will continue to struggle. obama campaign going into the debate does not have the burden and probably should talk about what the next four years will be like. i expect that will happen during the debates. i say they don't have the burden
because i'm talking tactically. the challenger does have that burden. we have a history with barack obama. we have a real sense of what he's done and what he is like and what he will do. when you are the challenger, you really have to say why you will be different. obama did that in 2008. that is the thing that i think romney will need to do, because we are evaluating the president as the champion in boxing terms and we are evaluating one of them as the challenger. if you have a challenger in the minds of people, it's hard to imagine them as the champion. those are my own words. >> all know the words we use are important. how did the candidates choose which keywords or catch phrases he wanted to use and to what degree was that influenced by
what he thought the voters wanted to hear? >> what i will say is that -- let me talk about how words came across maybe differently than people might have thought. for example, the hope and change and the guests began -- and the yes we can, i thought -- there was a lot of talk when he came out with "forward." the thing i always liked about president obama is he uses words as an ethos and not as a slogan.
if you think about it as a slogan, -- if i was in the campaign right now i would take that and internalize that word a little. staff, you guys are volunteers, you guys have gone this hard this long, keep going, persevere. then it has a different meaning for people outside. the same thing with yes we can. the thing that was fascinating about the way he used words, two things. in his speeches, he would talk as a candidate and would talk as it a ceo. if you go back and look at his speech, he talked about the importance of organizers in our communities. he was literally talking to our
staff and all of us. we suffered this loss when hillary supposedly did or did not cry in new hampshire and we went on to lose and it was a stunning moment for us. and he gave a speech, the new hampshire speech was yes we can. we had a moment in headquarters right after the defeat. we were stunned. we were supposed to win that race, we were double digit favorites the morning of the election. and we lost. i remember david plouffe or his assistant ms. johnson at 10:00 at night when i called everybody to my desk she said to make sure everybody watches the speech. people came from the shadows of the headquarters and it is nighttime and i have this team
of people around me and we are talking. talking its all of a sudden you see everybody in the headquarters headed towards the tv. the president was about to speak -- the candidate was about to speak. he gave this speech called yes we can. he talked about -- it was the best victory speech i had never heard. in heard. it talked abouthe long lines at the poll. he congratulated hillary clinton on a great race. he went on to talk about the long lines at the polls and how you made this happen. he was talking to hillary's staff as well. literally, at headquarters, when he was done, everybody started talking, as if he had been speaking to us. so that was a real value. david plouffe put together an e-
mail. he treated us as if everybody was a stakeholder. he always made you feel he was bringing everybody along with him. that made everybody feel like an insider. if you look back on yes we can and moments like that, i always felt two things were happening in that time. i expect this time they are doing something much the same. but that was happening back then. >> could you have done the job you did if you did not have the affinity you did for the cabinet? ndidate? ca >> no. you put so much on the line.
if we did not believe in this candidate, we would not have moved. the thing that was kind of inspiring -- i think this was an unusual election from anything i had seen. we would have to count up for the crowd count. usually you countdown. ok, if you have 500 people, make room for 400. so this was a phenomenon i had not seen before in many years of organizing. so we put it all on the line for this person. hard when's really you are football player better coach leaves in the middle of the season. it's really hard when you get betrayed by your candidate. the thing i liked about this candidate was he was always very honest with us. even in the early days when he said he did not have -- i am
counting on you guys. so that was refreshing. and i had the perfect moment and that's probably why i will not to another race. >> you sort of answer my question, but i wanted to add on to it. here he is doing these speeches and is addressing not only constituents but his own people, the staffers with this language. when you went back to the headquarters or to that headquarters in that area, did you watch how that language affected the staffers, their reaction to its? was it next, was? in was how was that language by them, from his speeches? -- was it a mixed reaction? >> the ones i remember were new hampshire, iowa.
the thing that -- maybe if i could give it a little, the thing i thought was interesting when you talk about language and words, was how he used pictures. i don't know if people paid attention to that. obviously, the candidate had a great command of language. his chief strategist david axelrod has a really strong command of language, as a journalist. the thing that was interesting about the campaign was this running narrative that you could look at -- that you could probably look at now. it was kind of a beautiful story. if you look at this period right after new hampshire, maybe even with the new hampshire speech, when he rolled through -- after we lost a hampshire, we had a time when we had to learn how to win again.
we were going into nevada and we were probably going to lose there and did lose by about 6 points and i think we won by one point in the caucus count -- the delegate count. we were going into south carolina. there were about 20 days where we started into -- introducing thewe were in kansas with kathln sibelius and there was a story with the endorsements. he never let the endorsements step on the message. his message was that his grandparents had met their during the depression and they were trying to carve out a life for themselves and what they wanted to do for their daughter. we were introduced to this
candidate who was formed by these heartland values that we didn't know about. you had, for example, the rollout of bill bradley in new hampshire. he had a really good run against al gore. you had this story of a candidate that would take on the establishment. after new hampshire, they rolled out john kerry, which shined on that new hampshire win. rolling to the country, you started to hear the story. i thought it was very interesting, the two things that happened during that time. i remember the state of the union that year and george bush was going to do it on monday
night. i remember turning on my television set in the afternoon and we were going to do this thing at american university. we told this powerful story about this connection to the candidate and who was there but ted kennedy and caroline kennedy. it almost looked like a nominating convention. the way the staff framed it, it was a powerful moment coming through on the tv set. it looked like he had already been anointed president. and george bush was going to do the last state of the union when he was really battling his popularity and you could see that contrast. kathleen sibelius' gives the counter addressed to the state of the union. you had these moments. we had a moment where oprah came out and mrs. obama came out and
maria shriver came out. and you had these pictures -- the foreign trip that we had. he was meeting with heads of state and did this rally with 250,000 people. these pictures of john mccain, he was in a grocery store and people were throwing things in his cart. i remember his first day on that trip, he sank a three-point shot in front of the troops and you have john mccain it motoring with george h. w. bush in a golf cart. this started with two people who understood language. you could see this happening
throughout the campaign and i think it helps people form images in their mind. >> how would you differentiate they campaign -- how would you differentiate the campaign trail from a propaganda machine? >> frankly, i just don't think voters go for propaganda machines. maybe they did at one point. people want an authentic candidate. this is what i was frustrated out when i was trying to start my own practice. i is that people were running tactics, not even a propaganda machine. it is striking. you have to define yourself and
not just a lesson for life. on the campaign trail, it is never more striking. i think people see through it and there's no market for it. >> you mentioned the polls with the clintons and obama and then you mentioned when there was the pastor issue with obama, the funds started dropping. are you talking about large donors and how important are the send $75 and you'll be invited to dinner, the grass roots things? >> kennedy your question also
and we will take them both together? -- can i get your question also. >> when you pick the language of a campaign, how you choose that? do you look at how other words could be misconstrued? when you are going up against another candidate, do you think of words that are going to be powerful against them or do you think of words that are powerful for the candidate you are representing? >> let me first take the question about -- i always just say donors are investors whether you are investing your time or your money. you notice when there is a
confidence crisis around you. for me, frankly, the donors are ghosts. it's not like to know the donor is right in front of me. they are dedicated people giving their time and resources. they're usually putting their reputations on the line. if i ask someone to give to my candidate, they're putting their reputation on the line. you have stakeholders and that's just part of what happens. when there is a crisis, we never know what the effect of that crisis is on the inside. but you do know that you will see it in a report that will come out and you see in the federal election campaign that the election has to file.
we will probably feel it two weeks or months before it shows up on paper. like everybody sees it right when it happens. it can happen with the grassroots and it can happen with big donors. sometimes a crisis actually generates money. our biggest on-line day was when sarah palin accepted the nomination to the vice president. our donations spiked on that day. she did what we were not getting from hillary clinton even with the women vote. it was not because of hillary clinton, but that coalition really came in on the day sarah palin announced. thingst just that
collapse, but people can rally around your candidate. that begins with a belief in your candidate. we had some days where there are tough days and people rallied and it didn't go the other way and some days when things slowed down and people got nervous. think we have a lot of those big swings. there is a saying that candidates never get out of the race. you see canada to stay and when they have had a bad moment and there's a saying that the candidates don't get out until the donors say. what was your question again? >> how do you choose the words
for a campaign? to use the demographics? do you choose words that are going to go to discredit or make the opponent look bad or are you choosing words that are going to make the canada look his best or her best? how does that all work out? >> i was not the wordsmith, but let me tell you what is in play that gets to your question. there three principles at work on the campaign trail, and for students, he should pay attention to this. it will be helpful going through your career. the first rule is define yourself lest you be defined.
it's up to you how you define yourself and gets to authenticity. campaign to of the define the candid and define there's also. the second principle is have or work toward building a base, which again it's toward credibility. you have to have a base of support. we made iowa our base. i think rudy giuliani tried to make florida his base. yet have credibility. might be with a constituency or geography -- you have to have credibility. the third is mind your ceo-ness. art kent it was defined as hope
and change in 2008. -- our candidate was defined as hope and change in 2008. i think people thought he was a steady leader. when i look back on john mccain, he might have had trouble defining himself. at one point he was the experience can't it and experienced war hero. then he flipped back to this matter and you were going back from experience and pounding our candid for being inexperienced, but then he picked sarah palin, which was clearly the choice of mavericky mccain. when the market collapsed,
people favored are catnip it because he was better on the economy. but we changed the election into an election about leadership. that is where people broke -- that is where people voted for barack obama. if you saw john mccain in that moment, he suspended his campaign and went to washington and said are candid it should come with him and went back to the it campaign trail, was going to be a debate and is a lot of lurching going on from john mccain. our campaigns stayed firmly there. john mccain was the voice echoing from the halls of washington. that was a contrast that favored are can't it. i think when john mccain said we should skip the debate and
focus, why can't it's response was i can do more things at once. i've got an organization that can handle a lot. voters want to hear from us. there's a sense that barack obama was a steady leader in these moments. all of this play on the campaign trail, people are evaluating, there is a definition more that's going on and a credibility battle going on. there is a sense of which one is going to be the better ceo going on and all of these work together and play off of each other and have got to come together in a way that makes sense for voters or voters will start making evaluations based on that. thank you. i had a good time tonight. >> a live picture this morning from the hall of dollar at virginia military institute in
virginia, where shortly we will bring you coverage of republican presidential candidate, mitt romney. he is scheduled to give a recall of a major address on foreign policy. we'll have that for you when it gets underway. it is scheduled for 11:20 eastern and we will have that for you on c-span. right now, a preview of the speech from this morning's "washington journal." host: we want to talk a little bit about this speech today. thank you for joining us. what does mitt romney have to do in this speech? what sort of expectations are built up? guest: this will be romney's foreign-policy speech. it is clearly pretty late in the game for him to be delivering a speech like this. early voting has started in the
number of states. he wants to continue some of the momentum he built up last week's debate. it's a chance for him to make a clear contrast between himself and the president. more importantly, it's another chance for his campaign to show that there is more of a choice between him and obama and less of a referendum. when romney pick his running mate this summer, there was a sense that this would be a chance for him to outline things for his own and have a policy position that would set him apart from the president. but we've seen over the past couple of weeks at the campaign dynamic has not changed that much. this is just one more issue on which the republicans are trying
to get the president. >> what you have seen from the speech so far, is mitt romney going to focus more with president is doing wrong or specifics about his foreign policy goals? >> the campaign has released some excerpts from the speech and a look like they're heavily focused on what obama has done wrong. polls show there is an opening for him there. obama leads by about five points when it comes to the trust would comes to international affairs. clearly, the romney campaign knows there is an area for him to make some headway there. there is always the risk that by focusing -- it's a couple of days before the vice presidential debate, there still maintaining the economy is the top issue, he runs the risk of
focusing on too many areas rather than keeping that single- minded focus on jobs and economic issues. >> you talked about the vice- presidential debate coming up. there is also a foreign policy debate coming up on october 22. is this a preview for that debate and does that open the play book for the obama camp to see what mayor romney is going to talk about at that foreign policy debate? >> -- what mitt romney is going to talk about. >> i think we have heard many of these arguments before, after , governorattacke romney came out and made these points pretty forcefully. from what we have seen, today's speech is going to be a maybe even stronger assertion of his
views of those issues. having been on the campaign trail and talk to voters that some of the paul ryan events, it's an argument that has resonated, particularly when it comes to things like foreign aid and how the country is spending its resources. exactly see the relationship being a reciprocal one. that could also be one area the romney campaign is looking for when they decided to hold this speech. >> i want to read a piece of the speech that was released yesterday. let us know what is new from this --
host: are these new ideas are things he has talked about on the campaign trail before? guest: it is what he has said before. goes into a little more details on the policies he would pursue their. but it's a long line of the argument he has made on taking a tougher stand in the middle east and the living defense cuts that are coming up this january. these are things he has mentioned before, so this speech seemed to be an opportunity to make that argument a little more forcefully and and a place like virginia where it is a major battleground this year. the obama campaign is responding with a tv ad of their own in virginia, focusing on governor
romney's foreign trip abroad, saying this was a reckless tripped and using a lot of footage from that. less than a month away from election day, we have a turn back toward foreign policy. it is the mirror image of what happened in 2008 when foreign policy had the election but once the financial collapse happened, suddenly everything turned to the economic issues and now you're seeing the other way around. host: thank you for joining us. appreciate it. >> this is where mr. romney will give his speech this morning. this is the virginia military institute in lexington, virginia. you are looking at the hall of valor. now romney is set to give his foreign policy speech at of the debate on foreign policy october 26 in florida. we will have live coverage of that. in that interim, we will have the vice presidential debate
>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 14th superintendent. >> members of the corps of cadets, staff, guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. the institute takes great pride in hosting leaders of national importance and listening to messages important to the commonwealth and our nation. foreign policy is very relevant to our cadets. many of them in this audience will student -- wilson commission as lieutenants or ensigns in the armed service. those who serve unleaded -- the related security of defense upon graduation in may of 2013. we're privileged to have with us
this morning, the republican nominee for the president of the united states of america, the hon. mitt romney, who will share his views in this area in a few months. from numerous campaigns successful and unsuccessful to the recognized leader of the very successful 2002 election -- the olympic games, and governor of massachusetts, the path he has travelled has been a long and impressive one. we will commence activities this morning with short remarks by a congressman and government all to be followed by an address from governor romney. we want to welcome each of you to the virginia institute. it now my pleasure to welcome congressman good lad. [applause] >> good morning. it is an honor to be back at the
virginia military institute with all of these outstanding young men and women, the cadets here. it is indeed an honor to be with your faculty and staff and distinguished visitors as well as gov. mcdonnell and governor romney. if you join me, i will offer the opening in vacation. dear lord, i thank you for allowing us to gather here safely today. you will bless this country greatly. we have so much to be thankful for. we thank you for these young men and women here today, many who have made the decision to join the heroes in our armed forces. lord, we pray for protection on behalf of americans who are sacrificing their time away from family and their very lives for the safeguarding of our liberties. we pray you come for the families of the heroes who gave their lives for this great country. let their sacrifices always be
remembered so as to bring wait before are policy decisions. lord, the challenges that face this country at home and abroad are many. our national leaders struggle daily to find the correct course that will guide us to safety. we pray that you provide us with them as we face these many difficult decisions. lastly, we pray that you continue to bless the united states of america. in your holy and precious name, we pray, amen. if you will please join me and rise in the pledge allegiance to the flag of our country. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
we are very fortunate in this commonwealth to be represented by an outstanding governor who has served with distinction and has been to the virginia military institute on many occasions. it is our pleasure to welcome him back here today. please join me in welcoming our great governor, bob macdonald. -- bob but donald. [applause] >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. it is an honor to be here with all of you, the great corps of cadets at the virginia military institute today and have the honor of introducing governor mitt romney. the bad news is i was here in
the spring for parade, but no such luck today. i want to think that general for his tremendous leadership. i'm sure you agree we are raising ups a tremendous new class of young men and women that will lead this military and this nation going forward. congressman goodlatte has been a tremendous supporter of the men and women in uniform. since its founding in 89, this institution has been incredibly dedicated to the cause of honor and service. vmi has produced some of the finest officers that the military has known during its nearly two centuries of service. i think i.t. is fitting that governor romney has chosen virginia military institute, and
you, the corps of cadets, as the audience to be able to discuss america's role in an increasingly dangerous and changing world. many of you no doubt will raise your hand and swear an oath to the constitution here upon graduation, and also be asked to go into harm's way, and for that, on behalf of the people of virginia, i want to say thank you. my family is kind of typical of virginia. my dad is a world war ii vet, my daughter was a platoon leader in iraq. there are many families like us in virginia. we have 150,000 men and women on active duty in a virginia. 830,000 veterans in virginia, about the highest number per capita of any state. the, the pentagon, the great navy base in norfolk, the home
of the coast guard station, many, many places where men and women in uniform proudly serve. it was the pentagon on a virginia's soil that was one of the places attacked on 9/11. i think that perhaps our roots going back to the first commander in chief, general and president george washington, give us that unique sense of when it comes to serving in the military. while most said the jobs in the economy and get and things of that nature, economic issues, are at the forefront of people's minds, some of the events of the past few weeks have put the issue of foreign policy front and center once again. no matter what the economy needs, america's role as the leader of the free world is always an issue of importance
not only for americans, but around the world. there are many uncertainties, and you see them on the daily news. the arab spring has created a number of new leaders in many places, egypt, libya, other places. mitt romney will be the leader, i believe, who will help to forge new strategic alliances and create a very clear policy for how we are going to deal with the mideast, and be sure that we are always vigilant in this ongoing war against al qaeda and terrorists. secondly, our strategic alliance with israel is always an important issue. governor romney has been unequivocal in his support for our friends in israel and upending their interests. thirdly, this ongoing issue of how to deal with the impending defense cuts brought about
through sequestration are quickly and put the issue -- are a critically important issue for our nation trade $1 trillion and a defense cuts over the next two years is simply not acceptable to be able to defend our country and provide you, the men and women who will be in the military, with the support and of women and material you need to defend our nation's interests support -- and equipment and material that you need to defend our nation's interests trade while president obama has been largely a bystander and not forceful in preventing defense cuts, governor romney has been unequivocal that this policy must be reversed and more resources need to be applied to defense. i am delighted that governor romney has chosen at virginia military institute today to be able to deliver remarks on america's leadership role in the world and on foreign policy. he is a man of immense principle, immensely successful as a leader in the public and private sector.
he was commander of the massachusetts national guard, and understands very well what the men and women in the national guard to to support the cause of freedom. please join me in welcoming a man who i believe was ready to be commander in chief of the united states military, the next president of the united states, governor mitt romney. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you so very much for that
warm welcome, and i particularly appreciate the introduction by my good friend and tireless campaign companion, gov. bob mcdonnell. we have traveled to stick together time and time again, and he goes all over the country helping me. he is also showing in virginia what conservative leadership can do to build a stronger economy. thank you also to congress sman goodlatte. in particular thanks to the general. i appreciate his invitation to be here today at the virginia military institute. it is a privilege to be an institution like this that has done so much for the nation both in times of war and times of peace. for more than 107 years, vmi has done more than educate students. it has guided their transformation into citizens, warriors, and leaders. vmi graduates serve with honor
in nation's defense, just as many are doing in afghanistan and other plants. -- lands. i mourn with you the 15 brave souls who have been lost. i join with you and praying for the many vmi graduates who are right now serving in harm's way. may god bless all who serve and all who have served. of all the vmi graduates, and none is more distinguished, perhaps, then general george marshall, the chief of staff of the army became secretary of state, secretary of defense, helped to vanquish fascism and plant it europe's restcue from despair. general marshall once said, "the only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it." those words were true in his time, and in a courtroom in our time -- and they are true in our
time. month, our nation was attacked again. a u.s. ambassador and three fellow americans are dead, murdered in benghazi, libya. among the dead or three veterans, all on a mission of peace and friendship to a nation that clearly longs for both. president obama has said that ambassador chris stevens and his colleagues represented the best of america, and he is right. we all mourn their loss. the attacks against us in libya were not an isolated incident. they were accompanied by anti- american riots in nearly two dozen other countries, most in the middle east, but also in africa and asia. our embassies have been attacked, our flag has been burned, many of our citizens have been threatened and driven from their overseas homs by vicious mons chardon "death to america." these mobs which did the black banner of islamic extremism on the anniversary of 9/11. as the dust settles, as the
murdered are buried, americans are asking how this happened. how the threats we face have grown worse, and what this calls on america to do. these are the right questions. i have come here today to offer a larger perspective on these tragic recent events, and to share with you, and to share with all americans, my vision for a freer, more prosperous, and more peaceful world. the attacks on america last month should not be seen as random acts. they are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader middle east, a region that is now and in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century. the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in benghazi itself. the attack on our consulate there on september 11, 2012, was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on september 11, 2001. this latest assault cannot be
blamed on irrepressible video insulting islam. despite the administration's attempts to convince us of that for so long. no, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the delivered work of terrorists, who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls, who are fighting to control much of the middle east today, and who seek to wage a perpetual war on the west. we saw all of this in benghazi last month, but we also saw something else, something hopeful. after the attack on our consulate, tens of thousands of libyans, most of them young people, held a massive protest in benghazi against a very extremist who had murdered our people. they waved signs that read, "the friend,"r was libya's and "libya is sorry." they chanted "no to militias."
they marched to the terrorist compound and then and they burned it to the ground. as one libyan woman said, " we're not going to go from darkness to darkness." this is a struggle that has shaken the entire middle east. it is the struggle of millions and millions of people, men and women, young and old, muslims, christians, and nonbelievers, all of whom have had enough of the darkness. it is a struggle for the dignity that comes with freedom and opportunity and the right to live under laws of our own making. it is a struggle that has unfolded under green banners in the streets of iran, in the public squares of tunisia and egypt and yemen, and in the fight for liberty in iraq and afghanistan and libya, and now in syria. in short, it is a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, and despair -- hope and despair.
we have seen this struggle before. he will be familiar with the general george marshall. in his time, the ashes of world war, the struggle between democracy and despotism. fortunately, we had the leaders of courage and vision, both republicans and democrats, who knew that america had to support friends who share our values and prevent today's crises from becoming tomorrow's conflicts trade statesmanlike marshall would rise to the responsibility, as did the leader of the free world. we defended our friends and ourselves from our common enemies. we led -- we led. although the path was long and uncertain, the thought of war in europe is inconceivable today as it seemed inevitable in the last century. this is what makes america exceptional. it is not only the character of our country. it is also the record of our
accomplishments. america has a proud history of strong, confident, principal the global leadership -- principled global leadership, a history that has been written by patriots of both parties. this is the standard by which we measure ever present, as well as anyone who wishes to be president. unfortunately, this president's policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership, and nowhere is this more evident than in the middle east. i want to be very clear -- the blame for the murder of our people in libya and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries lies solely with those who carried them out, no one else. it is our responsibility and responsibility of the president to use america's greatest power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. unfortunately, that is exactly what we find ourselves in the middle east under president
obama. the relationship between the president of the united states and the prime minister of israel, for example, our close ally in the region, has suffered great strains. at the present explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the united states and israel, and he succeeded. and this is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the middle east and in bold and our mutual adversaries, especially iran. iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapon capability. it has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and as, and has never acted less deterred by america as was made clear last year when iranian agents plotted to assassinate the saudi ambassador in our nation's capital. and yet 1 million iranians took to the streets in june 2009, demanding freedom from a " regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, "are
you with us or argue with them," the american president was silent. across the greater middle east, as the joint board from the downfall of dictators has given way to the painstaking work of building capable security forces and growing economies and developing effective democratic institutions, the president has failed to offer the tangible support that our partners want and need. in iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent al qaeda, the weakening of democracy in baghdad, and the rising influence of iran. and yet america's ability to influence events for the better and iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence. the president has tried -- he tried, but he also failed, to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better
secure our gains. the president has also failed to lead in syria, where more than 30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the assad regime over the past 20 months. violent extremists are flowing into the fight. our ally turkey has been attacked. the conflict threatens stability in the region. america can take pride in the blows that our military and intelligence professionals have inflicted on al qaeda, pakistan, afghanistan, including the killing of osama bin laden. these are real achievements one at a high cost. al qaeda remains a strong force, however, in yemen and somalia, libya, other parts of north africa, iraq, and now in syria, and other extremists have been ground across the region. drones and modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but are no substitute for national security strategy for the middle east.
the president is fond of saying that the tide of war is receding. i want to believe him as much as anyone else. but when we look at the middle east today, with iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in syria threatening to destabilize the region, and with a violent extremists on the march, and with an american ambassador and three others dead, likely at the hands of al qaeda affiliates, it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office. i know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and more prosperous middle east allied with us. i shared this hope. but hope is not a strategy. we cannot support our friends and defend our -- and defeat our enemies in the middle east when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of
partnership but passivity. the greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win a new friends who share our values and the middle east, friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists and evil tyrant and angry mobs who seek to harm us. unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our president is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. as one syrian woman put it, "we will not forget that you forgot about us." it is time to change course in the middle east. that should be organized around these bedrock principles -- america must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our minds. no friend of america will question our commitment to support them. no enemy that attacks america will question our results to defeat them. no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt america's ability to
back up our words. i will put the leaders of iran on notice that the united states and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. i will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. i will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carriers and task forces in both the eastern mediterranean and the gulf. and i will work with israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. for the sake of peace, we must make clear to iran for actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuits will not be tolerated. i will reaffirm our historic ties to israel and our abiding commitment to its security. the world must never see any daylight between our two nations. i will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the gulf, and i will hold back president obama's deep and arbitrary cuts to our national
defense that would devastate our military. i will make a critical defense investments that we need to remain secure. the decisions we make today will determine our ability to protect america tomorrow. the first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. the size of our navy is at levels not seen since 1916. i will restore our navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines. i will implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. and on this, there will be no flexibility with vladimir putin. i will call on our nato allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2% of their gdp to security spending. today, only three of the 28 nato nations meet this benchmark. i will make further reforms to
foreign assistance, to create incentives for good governance, for free enterprise, and for greater trade in the middle east and beyond. i will organize all efforts in the greater middle east under one official, with responsibility and accountability to prioritize efforts and to produce results. i will rally our friends and our allies to match our generosity with their, and i will make it clear to the recipients of our aid that in return for our material support, they must meet the responsibilities of every decent, modern government, to respect the rights of all the citizens, including women and minorities, to ensure civil society, a free media, political parties, and an independent judiciary, and to abide by international commitments to protect our diplomats and our property. i will champion of free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in
the middle east and across the world. the president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four viers. i will reimburse -- reverse that failure and work with the nation's around the world that are committed to the principles of our free enterprise, expanding its existing relationships, and starting new ones. i will support friends in the middle east who share our values but need help defending them and their sovereignty against common enemies. in libya, i will support the libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting government represents all of them, and i will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in benghazi and killed our fellow americans. in egypt, i will use our influence, including clear conditions on our eight, to urge the new government to represent all egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with israel. and we must persuade our friends
and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid. in syria, i will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values, and then ensure that they obtained the arms they need to defeat assad's tanks and helicopters and fighter jets. iran is sending arms to assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. we should be working no less vigorously through international partners to support the many syrians who would deliver that defeat to iran, rather than sitting on the sidelines. it is essential that we develop influence with those forces in syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the middle east. in afghanistan, i will pursue our real and successful transition to afghan security forces by the end of 2014. president obama what have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in afghanistan is arguing for
endless war. but the route to more and potential -- route to war and potential attacks on is a politically it time to retreat that abandons the afghans to people, the same extremists who launched 9/11. i will evaluate conditions on the ground and with the best device of our military commanders, and i will affirm that my duty is not to protect my political prospects, but to protect the security of the nation. finally, i will recommit and are cut to the goal of a democratic, prosperous palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with the jewish state of israel. on this vital issue, the president has failed. and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the un. in this old conflict, as in every challenge we face at the middle east, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew. there is a long and for american
leadership in the middle east, and it is not unique to that region. it is broadly felt by america's friends and allies and other parts of the world as well. ia europe, where putin's russ casts a long shadow over young democracies, where our oldest allies say we're giving away from them. in asia and across the pacific, where china posture recent assertiveness is sending chills through of that region. and in our own hemisphere, where our neighbors in latin america want to resist the failed ideology of hugo chavez and the castro brothers and deepen ties with the united states through trade and energy insecurity. in all these places, just as in the middle east, the question is asked, where does america stand? i know many americans are asking a different question -- why us? i know many americans are asking whether our country today, with our ailing economy and massive debt and 11 years of war, is
still capable of leading. i believe that if america doesn't lead, others will. others who don't share our interests and our values, and the world would grow darker for our friends and for us. america's security and because of a free and cannot afford if you are more years like the last -- america's security and because of a free and cannot afford four more years like the last four years. i believe america has the duty to our citizens and friends everywhere to use our influence wisely, with solemnity, and without false pride, but also firmly and actively, to shape events in ways that secure our interests, for our values, prevent conflict, and make the world better -- not perfect, but better. our friends and allies across the globe to not want less american leadership. they want more. more of our moral support, more
of our security cooperation, more of our trade, more of our assistance in building free societies and thriving economies. so many people across the world still look to america as the best hope of humankind. so many people still have faith in america. we must show them that we still have faith in ourselves, that we have the will on the wisdom to revive our stagnant economy, to roll back our unsustainable debt, to reform our government, to reverse the catastrophic cuts now threatening our national defense, to renew the sources of our great power and to lead the course of human events. sir winston churchill once said of george marshall, "he always fought victoriously against defeatism, the discouragement, and dissolution." that is the role our friends want us to play again, and the role we must play. the 21st century can and must be
an american century. it began with terror and war and economic calamity. it is our duty to steer it under the path of freedom and peace and prosperity. the torch america carries is one of decency and hope. it is not america's torch alone, but it is america's duty and honor to hold it high enough that all the world can see it's like. thank you so much for your participation in this great charge. god bless you, and god bless the united states of america. thank you very much. [applause] ♪